Digital program reduced low back pain patients' interest in undergoing surgery 52%, study finds

Written by Shayna Korol | January 25, 2019 | Print  |

A 12-week digital care program for patients suffering from lower back pain greatly reduced patients' interest in undergoing surgery, according to a study in npj Digital Medicine.

The researchers assessed the program's efficacy in a randomized controlled trial. The 113-person treatment group received the 12-week program, consisting of sensor-guided exercise therapy, education, cognitive behavioral therapy, team and individual behavioral coaching, activity tracking and symptom tracking. The program was  administered remotely through an app. The control group, consisting of 64 patients, only received three digital education articles.

The treatment group's Korff pain scores improved 52 percent compared to 3 percent for the control group. Crucially, the digital care program treatment group demonstrated a 52 percent decrease interest for lower back pain surgery, while the control group showed a 53 percent increase in interest in surgery.

The positive impact of the program may lead to direct and indirect cost savings by avoiding surgical interventions, according to the study authors. The effectiveness of a digital care program may reduce opioid use rates for low back pain, the study authors concluded.

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